Hardware

Photos: Cool 3D printed products destined to be squashed by lawyers

The wide world of 3D printing

The digital marketplace for 3D printing is wide open, allowing makers to design or replicate almost anything. Because of that, there are many intellectual property battles and other legal issues on the horizon.


For more on 3D printing, see: 

Image: MakerBot

About

Lyndsey Gilpin is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She writes about the people behind some of tech's most creative innovations and in-depth features on innovation and sustainability.

52 comments
pmshah
pmshah

3D printing something just because you can is stupid in my opinion. Prototyping a product, a hard to find replacement part or a very low volume complex shaped component I can easily justify. But a scrabble tile ? 

bratwizard
bratwizard

>> Guy Fawkes Mask


Interesting that the "symbol of protest and solidarity" requires a royalty payment. What will they think of next ?

bradleyross
bradleyross

Some of these items have already been handled fairly heavily.


One of the cases that has been heavily settled would be the case of the bicycle helmet.  You could print a bicycle helmet, but it wouldn't be certified for use.  Certification has to be obtained by the manufacturer and involves quality control and various testing means.  Besides copyright and patent infringement, there would be a huge legal hassle if anyone sold such designs with the implication that the resultant helmet would be legal protection for a bicycle rider.


There are a number of open source projects for processing medical information.  Although the open source versions can be used for research and study, the open source versions can't be used clinically (can't be used to determine appropriate medical treatment).  There are firms that take the open source programs, test them, and then obtain certification from the FDA.  (Google OsiriX and ClearCanvas).  This type of certification would apply to medical parts.


There are already people who use photocopying equipment to counterfeit money.  You can't 3D print money because the 3D printers are limited in materials and 3D printed money wouldn't feel like money.  The photocopying techniques don't work because of things like color changing ink and a number of other features in the money.  The introduction of 3D printing would have little effect on counterfeiting.


Sculptures are already being created by 3D printing.  In addition, molds for sculptures have been created using 3D scanning and conventional molding techniques.  Distribution of these items is handled in the same way that art museums sell prints of paintings.


If I build something using stolen or illegally copied blueprints, I am breaking the law.  Using 3D printing is essentially the same as using CNC machines with CAD/CAM plans.


Printing a key with 3D printing is no different than using a key cutting machine, and the same laws apply.


With regard to the production of replicas of movie related items, try going to any anime or science fiction convention.  You can also take a look at YouTube.  You can also google for information on counterfeit parts.


The problems have been here for years.  3D printing has not made a significant change.



phlat
phlat

Two words.. Open SOURCE!

CodeCurmudgeon
CodeCurmudgeon

So far the only flag flying on the Moon is the United States' but it's been nearly 40 years since we've been there, so I reckon it belongs to whoever can get there.

swshelton
swshelton

Couldn't you print an ACTUAL key with one of these machines and a blueprint? While I fully embrace this technological advancement, it seems to me, that THAT should be an actual concern.


Let's say you dated Taylor Swift for a while, and upon hearing her new single about how you are a loser, you decide to scan the key to her house, which you still have, and upload it to some torrent sites... Shouldn't that worry Tay-dolf Swiftler?


What if a disgruntled employee at Master Locks decides to upload the CNC instructions for every key made to fit one of their locks?


Still, it would be nice to be able to just print a spare key for myself or my wife when we lose ours.


Either way, it will be fascinating to watch what ingenious things criminals will create once this technology is cheap enough.

scratchmb5
scratchmb5

Well, this is a case of personal artistic integrity versus corporate profiteering by legal bushwhacking. The power of the technology and the software made available has created a new core of artists. Most artists do intend to make a profession of being such. Some however are simply hobbyists. 

Where the artist has to do, is if they fancy using material that is already a registered logo or trademark, then their conception should first be validated as artistic interpretation. After all. Did Coca Cola sue Andy Warhol for his artistic interpretation of their product? Well, they thought about it seriously, but did not, actually they were just as thrill to have their image as part of a pop art iconic culture. 

 So, yes, things are different today, corporate greed is a high priority as a badge of pure capitalism. They want total control over everything and anything that remotely resembles them. 

 So, therefore, once an artist has protected their version of an icon or trademark as artistic interpretation for personal reasons, they have the right to send it to the company and asked for written permission to sell it as an artistic venue. Now, common sense should tell any company that this would be like the most amazing and bountiful free advertising if the artist became successful and that piece became highly prized as an art piece. As Warhol's work favored the Coca Cola company. 

Yet it just no longer works that way, common sense has gone out the window. They will either buy the piece and employ the artist to do more, or they will reject the piece and  warn the artist that if it ever shows up anywhere, they will take legal action.

 It is just further proof that what we once criticized and fought against in Communism is biting us in the gluteus maximus at the other extreme of hard core capitalism. We have all the freedom, we have all the education, we have all the technology, we have all the tools and equipment, we just have to have legal permission to use any of it. 

 Yet, no one has stepped up to the plate and called it oppression.

jjk308
jjk308

EnEm1 quote:

"So what's inhibiting these lawyers from allowing 3D printing to take off? It's their lack of trust in the human psyche. They are judging the rest of the world by their own standards or perhaps a total lack of personal standards"


Do you work for free?  Do services or build things for others then have them walk off without paying?  Intellectual property rights are no different from any property or labor rights.  You have the right to demand payment for what you produce.  If they don't want to pay but still use it, then its theft.

tvmuzik
tvmuzik

I oughtta 3D print a figurine of a Law-yerrr and practice voodoo on it.

AnonyJew
AnonyJew

I just came up with a great idea from this, I can use a 3D printer to make my minis for warmachine, battletech, and warhammer, not to mention for tabletop RPG minis that Wizards likes to sell that are really expensive but never really match the characters of which I'm playing.  No worry about copyright infringement either as long as you use original designs. 

skf
skf

Another page that doesn't work?

EnEm1
EnEm1

So what's inhibiting these lawyers from allowing 3D printing to take off? It's their lack of trust in the human psyche. They are judging the rest of the world by their own standards or perhaps a total lack of personal standards. And that's not surprising when you consider that lawyers vie for the lowest rung of the ladder with politicians. Heck, almost all politicians in the US _are_ lawyers!

Who knows, 3D Printing might, at last, show up issues relating to Values, Standards, Principles and Ethics in the glaring light of everyday Reality and lawyers and politicians will be the least qualified to evaluate these issues.

What this country needs is Philosophy, not the impractical, other-worldly, mish mash of platitudes which promise rewards in the next life but practical philosophy applicable to existence on earth. That may be wishful thinking when you consider that education is controlled by the very same degenerates on Capitol Hill who see it as their God-given right to sweep philosophy under the rug to ensure their survival.    

Extremelydangerous
Extremelydangerous

May be copyright is an issue in some countries (USA, Europe, some Asia), that is about 800 milion people. If the total of population is about 7 bilion than is about 10% that have problem with copyright,

See here in Brazil, for example, there is a copyright law but no one cares, only less than 1% goes to the court and less than 1% of the court result in some trial..  The same happens with all latin america, China, India, not to mention Africa.. By the time the chinese starts to build 3D printers for about 100 dollars, everyone here can print anything they want and there is no way to make them stop!

unity100
unity100

Then, we will pirate.


People and business must adapt to the times and new technology. Technological progress and the future do not adapt to practices of times past.

christopher.smith
christopher.smith

I wonder if the "fair use" doctrine will be applied in this area? Just the like the VCR issue in the 70's...albeit with more complexity...

tommaltbysemail
tommaltbysemail

3D Printing? Seems like a technology that can copy or replicate something but what about the insides? Copying something that has ridges and valleys to it is one thing but human organs and the like? No way. There is no way this 'printer' can duplicate the insides of an organ in such a way that would make it perfectly useable by another human. Ridiculous thought. ITS A PRINTER/Copy machine people.

Al_nyc
Al_nyc

copy legos?  I doubt it.  Anyone who has played with real legos and similar compatible blocks knows it's not that easy to copy them.  They might look similar, but they don't snap together as well as the real thing. 

jpicazzo
jpicazzo

You missed human organs - Which are also in the way. 3-D printed corneas, livers, kidneys etc. built from stem cells and put together by a 3-D printer.... But what will happen if the organ fails? Who's liable? What if some unscrupolous black-market "doctors" start printing low quality organs?

In any case, I'm first in line for when we can have 3-D printed replacement corneas since I can't have Lasik...

thebaldguy
thebaldguy

ROTFLMAO, thanks for finally giving me a reason to buy a 3D printer: to help bring down the copyright fuster-cluck! ;-)

Robert.S.Mathis
Robert.S.Mathis

I'm just wondering if TechRepublic is ever going to fix it so we can see more that one photo on these type of lists.

ctdahle
ctdahle

@swshelton CNC technology is already pretty cheap, and you can easily build, for example, a gun...indeed, that capability has been well within the capability of a home machinist for the last hundred years or so. Home shop CNC and 3D printing doesn't change much about the ease of creating "undesireable" items. It still takes a tremendous amount of patience, work, skill, and knowledge to set these machines up, test, adjust and calibrate them to run reliably, and keep them tuned and maintained, with the degree of precision required to make much beyond "art" objects. Even if someone else provides the required G-code, or steals it, it takes a skilled operator to actually run the machine.


Most criminals simply lack the patience, skill, and intellectual capacity to put these machines to nefarious uses. Anyone who actually has the tenacity and drive to bring even the most advanced machines to peak performance will quickly realize that the opportunities on the "right" side of the law are both more numerous and more profitable than the ones on the wrong side.

jacqui
jacqui

@jjk308 What many people forget is that the IP rights holder will have put a lot of time, effort and money into creating the marketable product in the first place. If other people are able to copy that product freely, then no-one will be willing to invest in creating new products.

suplero
suplero

@jjk308 intellectual property rights are way different that labor rights.


how many jobs do you know where the worker gets paid for 70 years after the job is done for the same work?  If i build you a kitchen do i get to get paid every time you open the refrigerator?  


Intellectual property rights are govt created rights for the purpose of promoting science and the arts, which boils down to "is good for humanity".  all the stifling does is make money for certain groups while excluding others.  


govt sponsored extortion.  


If you like IP rights, then hire me to do your house.  I'd love to live off you for the next 70 years.



jasonhiner
jasonhiner moderator

@skf  If you're blocking Javascript then this gallery won't work. Apologies.

dogknees
dogknees

@EnEm1  No one is "inhibiting" it. Lawyers have nothing to do with it. How could they? Can they reach out to every maker in the world and stop them developing products or trying to sell them? Do they stop people buying machine tools that can be used to make a weapon?

dogknees
dogknees

@unity100  Why? Shouldn't we build and use technology that we want? It doesn't appear magically out of nowhere, people design it. People choose what to use if for and it's the job of business to supply what we want. Not the other way around.

utopia27
utopia27

@christopher.smith  Intellectual property law surrounding design of physical objects is much less mature or clear-cut than music, film, photo/painting/visual arts, or writings. No one has ever really felt a strong need to copyright a salt-shaker design before.

dogknees
dogknees

@tommaltbysemail  One of the points of 3D printers is that you can make the inside whatever structure you need. They are not just "copiers", you can design whatever you are capable of in a 3D application and print it. Doesn't have to be a pattern. The only limit is your creativity, knowledge and skills.

richard233
richard233

@tommaltbysemail Yes and no.

While I can't actually see individual cells being created any time soon, I can see a machine that uses cells as their "ink".  For instances, lets say you had living bone marrow in one chamber and other materials that will be used to create the solid bone part.  You squirt the bone marrow cells in at the right place and if done correctly you could in theory create a living bone custom sized for a person.


Likeliest scenario is that you have someone with a badly shattered leg, perhaps pieces missing.  You use the "printer" to place the living marrow cells more gently and precisely than you might  otherwise do.

ctdahle
ctdahle

@Al_nyc You are completely correct. The proof is that the last Lego patent expired 25 years ago (in 1989, see: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/12/13/167055503/why-legos-are-so-expensive-and-so-popular )and people are already producing Lego compatible components but they are not going to hurt Lego any because no one makes better Legos than the original manufacturer. Future profits will go to the manufacturers who create the best quality.


"Lawyers" may squash certain 3D printed products, but open source people are generally about continuous improvement and innovation. Products that are trapped in the bewhiskered proprietary IP model are going to become more rapidly obsolete. Products that are open sourced will continue to gain value as they are subject to endless innovation and improvement.

Large companies will no longer make massive profits on a few blockbuster, proprietary products. Instead smaller manufacturers and individuals will be earning modest, but respectable incomes by building the best quality products they can, knowing that a competitor is always going to be out there trying to build something better.


The old model is "own or steal all the IP and make a killing by suing the competition". The new model is "build something great and enjoy a reasonable return for your effort."

rsayre11
rsayre11

@Robert.S.Mathis  Same issue here - Javascript is enabled, but only one picture shows for Firefox, Chrome and IE

jasonhiner
jasonhiner moderator

@Robert.S.Mathis  That problem is typically related to Javascript. If you have Javascript blocked then the galleries won't work. Is that the case for you?

CET Geo
CET Geo

@Robert.S.Mathis  it's an IE problem, I have the same issue on lots of sites using IE but they work just fine using Google Chrome (as does this page). 

swshelton
swshelton

@ctdahle @swshelton  I understand what you are saying, but those details will only become more and more negligible as the technology advances. I have in my office, what used to require an entire printing shop.


Today it may be difficult enough, and require special skills and knowledge, but tomorrow it'll be be a button that says "Calibrate".


Not that I'm disagreeing with your analysis, but rather considering advancements in making these devices more user-friendly.


Lastly, while the opportunities may be more numerous in the white-hat world of 3D printing (Debatable), I don't know that is inherently more profitable. There are billionaires on this planet that don't appear in any issue of Forbes. Just ask El Chapo, the former head of the Sinaloa drug cartel.


Printing counterfeit currency can be extremely difficult, nigh on impossible for most... Yet it exists. Difficulty is a very weak safeguard against a determined attacker.


Locks just keep honest people honest, and no matter how well it's made, EVERY lock has one fatal flaw... It was meant to be opened by SOMEBODY.

dogknees
dogknees

@suplero @jjk308  As you say, intellectual  property rights exist to benefit us all. Hence breaching them is bad for us all. Pretty simple really.

fairportfan
fairportfan

@suplero @jjk308It's obvious that you don't understand the difference between IP rights and other ownership.


If i build an office building, should i let people use the office suites in it for free after the building is twenty years old?


Should my heirs not be allowed to collect rent on it after i die?

EnEm1
EnEm1

@dogknees In case you missed the header of this article, here it is again: "Photos: Cool 3D printed products destined to be squashed by lawyers". Thank you

EnEm1
EnEm1

@dogknees In case you missed the headline, here it is again......"Photos: Cool 3D printed products destined to be squashed by lawyers". Thank you

utopia27
utopia27

@dogknees  The Settlers of Catan set in the gallery has already been the subject of a copyright lawsuit. The original game designer sued the originator of the design for infringement and lost sales. Unfortunately for the original designer, there is already precedent separating game pieces (particularly 'replacement' pieces) from the game design IP. 

utopia27
utopia27

@dogknees @unity100  You really can't 'un-invent' this type of technology. The genie is out of the bottle, and now we have to make our peace with it. Kiling the genie, or putting it back in the bottle are not realistic options.

simon.c.tremblay
simon.c.tremblay

@utopia27 @christopher.smith  "copyright" for physical object is called an Industrial Design and can be registered for a limited time protection (10 years in Canada)

.  

"An industrial design is the visual features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament—or any combination of these features—applied to a finished article made by hand, tool or machine."

http://www.cipo.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/h_wr00004.html


Here's a salt-shaker:

http://www.ic.gc.ca/app/opic-cipo/id/mngMg.do?lang=eng&status=&sz=1&imgLstTp=1&imgLstTp=5&imgLstTp=6&imgTp=1&loadButton=Load


With the Star Wars logo, you are stepping into the Trademark side of Intelluctual Property wich is a whole different beast.

suplero
suplero

@fairportfan @suplero@jjk308 

interesting rebuttal that totally misses the point.

the point jjk308 was making was that IP was the same as labor, which I refuted.

Now, the real question in your analogy is would you have a claim against me if i built an office building that was similar to yours?  could you claim ownership of the idea?

How could something that I built with my own resources be a violation?  Only through govt mandate.  


The fact that the govt gives state sponsored rackets to certain groups for 70+ years does nothing to promote the arts and sciences, and by extension the human experience.  


Consider the average life cycle of a toy or other hardware device.  Does it really last 70 years in the public eye?  Does it promote arts and sciences to stifle the creativity of others for that whole time frame?


that's the point.  These aren't ideas anymore, they are physical devices, and as such, the freedom to tinker and copy and explore shouldn't be hampered by govt restrictions.




dogknees
dogknees

@EnEm1 @dogknees  I did read it, I just don't necessarily agree with it. Several of the examples state "may" be sued, "might" be in breach. So while the headline says that,t he details are a bit less black-and-white.

TRgscratch
TRgscratch

@EnEm1 @dogknees   Which means: "A list of things that are either protected by copyright or dangerous in which case, someone is liable (and can be sued)"

dogknees
dogknees

@utopia27 @dogknees  But that is not slowing the development of the technology or "inhibiting it from taking off". It's just busting a few users.

dogknees
dogknees

@utopia27 @dogknees @unity100  Not saying it can be uninvented. Saying just because it exists doesn't mean it should be used. There are many possible things that we don't do for all sorts of reasons.


I guess I'm saying one way to "adapt" to a given technology might be to choose to not use it.